The Hill of Uisneach
As part of the Conservation Management Planning for Hill of Uisneach, Westmeath County Council contracted Flynn Furney Environmental Consultants to undertake a baseline assessment of the natural heritage of this 5000 year old site. The management plan aimed to evaluate how to balance tourist access and organised events on the hill with appropriate management of the site’s archaeological and natural heritage. All within the context of a working farm.
This baseline assessment considered all the site’s ecological features including hedgerows, wetlands, springs, grasslands and rocky outcrops. The Hedgerow Appraisal System (Foulkes et al 2013) was used for the evaluation of the natural capital and condition of hedgerows across the site and to highlight how land management may be influencing their condition. Habitat surveys, botanical surveys and ecological impact assessment methodologies were used to assess how human impact, management and agriculture were impacting the conservation status of the site’s natural heritage.
Our survey identified a range of ecologically sensitive areas around the site including orchid rich grasslands and wetlands. Of particular significance was the discovery of a stand of Narrow-leaved Bittercress Cardamine impatiens, a rare native plant only known to naturally occur at one other site in the country. Our findings have been combined with archaeological studies and consultation with farmers, locals and tourist operators to create a plan to sustainably enhance site usability, while conserving its significant natural and cultural heritage features